Nothing Sells Itself.

Next month I'll be speaking at Programmatic I/O in New York about selling programmatic technology and audiences. No, selling programmatic isn't a typo, nor is it a contradiction in terms like jumbo shrimp or amicable divorce. I believe the seller has an active role in an automated marketplace. That the role hasn't been fully realized yet doesn't make this any less true.

The person who first said this technology (or algorithm or data set) sells itself was clearly not tasked with selling it. We must believe in our solution, the logic says, and if it's good all we should need to do is get it plugged in...get the tags up, get the master services agreement signed. The market will respond appropriately and it will provide, we tell ourselves. But then, too often, it doesn't.

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This is where the seller makes a difference. As I've previously said in this space, there's a big difference between selling and simply describing stuff. So how, then, do technology sellers earn their keep and drive the business forward?

Draw Sharp Contrasts. Only by understanding the deeper business and audience needs of the client accounts can the seller draw sharp contrasts between the quality and depth of their solution and the rest of the market. Broad banalities like brand safe and premium don't get it done. There's a lot of crap out there: if your offering has real value to the advertiser's business, you have to own that narrative.

Be Radically Curious. Far too many sellers are just happy to be included. They settle for just being in the game, which explains all those non-producing PMP deals and under-producing programmatic streams. Until something happens, nothing happens. Strong sellers have hard conversations about how things work. Who do we need additional support from? How will planning and investment teams express demand? Any rep who has just one or two points of programmatic contact is vulnerable. And if you find yourself frequently waiting for stuff to happen, you're in trouble.

Catalyze Activation. Once a programmatic buyer says yes to a PMP or other automated relationship, their attention and enthusiasm wane noticeably. Strong sellers push back on what happens next - How do we get set up? Exactly how the money will begin to flow? Who will make the downstream decisions that will affect revenue? - and puts appropriate pressure on the buyer organization to get things going. Many a promising business relationship ends up stillborn simply because the integration was never prioritized.

Merchandise Your Offering. Someone once told me that you have to merchandise programmatic inventory and tech. Indeed. Just like the person in the supermarket who makes sure their product is at eye-level and supported by in-store signage and coupons, you have to constantly make sure your inventory or solutions are constantly in view of planning and investment teams. We can't just be supply sellers...we must also be demand generators.

Nothing sells itself. And when we count on the technology to do the selling, that's exactly what we end up with: Nothing.

Look for me on Monday October 15th at Programmatic I/O in New York. If you haven't yet made plans, you can find out more here.